finding happiness outside of my passion

This blog will (hopefully) just be a quick jot on the topic of the week: Joy, Happiness, and Fun

As a very passionate and proud Pre-K teacher, I do not have any trouble finding happiness, joy, and fun in my job and in the learning journey I share with my “littles.” However, in a small town school, we only have one class of Pre-K (in the morning), which leaves the afternoon part of my job: teaching classes in other elementary grades so that their homeroom teachers can have their prep time.

I take pride in the fact that I am giving other teachers precious prep time, but I have to be honest in saying that I don’t find the same amount of joy and happiness in this aspect of my job (which, as one of those “born-to-be-a-teacher” types, bothers me).

Next year, I have Grades 4, 5, 6, and Kindergarten on my plate, which altogether will be about 130 students who I see for just a small portion of their week. The most difficult part of this, for me, is not having enough time together to form relationships with each student.

As an optimist through-and-through, I don’t want to go into the year feeling flat during my afternoons (who wants to feel drained and without passion?). So I am aiming to think of small ways to develop relationships with my prep students and build in more of those golden teaching moments where you can truly enjoy the students. Darting from classroom to classroom definitely makes this a challenge, and the limited amount of time I have with each class isn’t ideal, either, but I am determined to bring some happiness, joy, and fun into these classes (for both myself any my students).

I hope to save 10 or 15 minutes each week to have sharing time, so that we can discuss important or exciting things going on in our lives as a learning community. I truly believe that investing some of my instruction time into getting to know the students will serve me in the long run! After all, classroom management has to begin with respect and relationships.

Do you have any quick/easy ways of building relationships with students that you could share? I would love to hear your suggestions!

Until next time,

-KKF

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steamroller

Here I sit, underneath the covers of my bed (where I had planned to veg out all evening). However, after a text from a colleague asking for some technological Twitter help, I got sucked into the Twitterverse and my dormant teacher brain quickly booted up again.

This text ended up being the catalyst to a suddenly productive evening. Buckle up for this (time-stamped) retelling…

7:52 p.m. – receive text from colleague

A staff member at my school had a question about using our new school hashtag (which you should check out at #HBCSpride). I quickly checked Twitter to investigate the problem.

7:55 p.m. – reply to text from colleague 

After finding the solution to the problem, I replied to my colleague’s query. However, this was only the beginning of my foray with Twitter for the night.

7:55 p.m. – 8:18 p.m. – scrolling through Twitter 

While I love Twitter as a way to connect with other educators, I am still working on finding time to actually scroll through it. Since I was already on the app, I decided to sift through some of the latest tweets in my main feed, on #HBCSpride and #saskedchat. I had previously been toying with the idea of moderating a summer Twitter chat (thanks to a gentle suggestion from @kwhobbes) and came across the sign up sheet.

8:19 p.m. – take the plunge and sign up to moderate my first Twitter chat 

8:21 p.m. – document this occasion in 21st century fashion by tweeting about it

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Now I was past the point of No Return. I was in full-fledged teacher summer PD planning mode. Somewhere in the next 10 minutes, I ended up thinking, “Hey, if I’m going to host a Twitter chat, I might as well sign up for a summer SPDU event, too, right?”

8:31 p.m. – 8:55 p.m. – look up options for SPDU events offered over the summer, choose one I’m interested in, decide to ‘go for it’ and register

Everything was going lickity split, tickity boo, smooth sailing so far! This was easy! But the next part of my journey almost made me give up…

8:55 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. – battling with MySTF to change my password

Yes, you read that correctly. 20 minutes of attempting to change my password. I would compare these gruelling 20 minutes to the Trials of Hercules:

Labor 1: Find the heinously complicated password STF set up for me in the fall written on a note (You know the ones that are a random mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols that you don’t even know how to find on your keyboard? Yeah. It was one of those).

Labor 2: Correctly type in the heinously complicated password STF set up for me.

Labor 3: Realize that the heinously complicated password STF set up for me is only a temporary password and now I must come up with my own heinously complicated password.

Labor 4: “Error: Password must not be a word from the dictionary.”

Labor 5: “Error: Password must contain one uppercase letter.”

Labor 6: “Error: Password and password confirmation do not match.”

Labor 7: “Error: Password must contain your mother’s maiden name, one hieroglyph, the first concert you attended, one Chinese character, the name of your first pet, and one Wingding.”

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9:19 p.m. – Successfully sign up for “Playful Experiences for Early Literacy and Much More” 

9:20 p.m. – 9:31 p.m. – decide to sign up for the #saskedchat Summer Blogging Exposé

Changing a password isn’t a pre-requisite skill to blog, right?

9:31 p.m. – relay the damage of my teacher brain rampage to my ever-supportive mom

Me (and I quote): “I tell ya, once I’m on a roll, I’m on a steamroll.”

Mom: “When you’re productive, you’re productive :)”

[subtext: “When you’re lazy, you’re REALLY lazy!”]

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9:31 p.m. – 10:31 p.m. – write up my first Blogging Exposé piece/the epic tale of my evening

Now, I apologize to those of you who are following the Blogging Exposé, because you’re probably wondering, “At what point in this post does she actually address this week’s topic?” (which is Summer Reads, by the way). Well, you’ve made it, to this completely underwhelming blip on the radar that is the actual topic of this week’s Blogging Exposé.

What I Plan on Reading This Summer

Long story short, one of our division’s Coordinators of Learning (and also head of the ECE programs in the division – check her out here) very kindly lent me an entire stack of resources focused on early learning, the project approach, inquiry, Reggio Emilia, etc. to peruse for the summer. I apologize, because I have left all of them at my summer home (not my school year home) and can’t name them all for you now. But I will try my very best to give you some updates when I get around to reading them (amidst all of the other teacher-geared activities I have managed to plan for myself in one night – haha! Don’t worry though, I pencilled in plenty of time for relaxing, recharging, and recuperating as well.).

Stay tuned to continue to follow me on my journey as a teacher in the summer months.

Until then, keep steamrollin’!

-KKF

TL;DR – Even when I plan to take a night off, I don’t. I have some exciting PD opportunities coming up this summer.

 

 

how i spend my sunday

There are few things I enjoy more than rearranging my classroom furniture and centres/invitations. It makes things feel fresh and exciting. Plus I love watching my students react to new materials I have set out. 

Check out my new setup! 

My natural materials area! Filled with real birds’ nests and real grass for the frogs to frolic in.

We are going to be learning about birds, nests, and eggs in the coming weeks.


Art studio area, complete with many new supplies the students haven’t seen before. I think they’ll LOVE the mini canvases. I’m excited to display their artwork on the easels.


Dramatic play/kitchen area. To the left of the photo is the large sensory table, which currently has water beads in it.


Our brand new light table is going to be a hit, I can already tell! I have quite a few different translucent materials to explore.


My small sensory bin is featuring rice, magnetic letters, copies of the students’ names, and a magnetic board. I hope they’ll enjoy this letter hunt invitation.


We are also EXTREMELY lucky to be getting an abundance of new equipment, toys, and furniture for our outdoor playground that you can see right out of the classroom window. I will post pictures and an update once all of it is installed. We at HBCS Pre-K are sure spoiled and blessed with all of the amazing learning materials we have at our fingertips. 

This week, I was reminded just how important play is to children beyond Pre-K and K age. My grade 6 social studies class went on a scavenger hunt this week, and one of the stations was in my classroom. I was surprised to find some of them playing in the water bead sensory table while I was circulating. The students made remarks such as, “this classroom is so fun!” and “can we come in here more often?” It was enthralling to see 11 and 12 year olds engaging in the rich sensory experiences that we are required to provide for our youngest learners. This discovery solidified my belief in the power and importance of play, and the incorporation of hands-on and explorative tasks in the older grades’ curricula. It definitely sparked my motivation to include engaging and “fun” tasks with my prep classes I teach in the afternoon. Perhaps we will even have to invite the grade 6 students in during our free play time soon…

Until then, 

Keep playing! 

-KKF

spring has sprung

And spring has brought with it some new adventures. 

1. I have been feeling a lot more motivated and energetic with the warm, sunny weather. This has led to getting up earlier, being productive, and even going for walks after school! 😊

2. Seed planting in Pre-K. We planted some mystery seeds on Monday. Hopefully I can keep them alive until they sprout into grass. The students all made guesses on what the seeds would turn into and my favourite answer was: “A chomper plant!” We are checking in on the seeds every morning to see if there is any change, and I am hoping that something will happen quickly so they don’t lose interest.

3. Puddles. Giant puddles. Our whole Pre-K playground is basically a puddle, thanks to a lovely little valley between two trees in the middle of the yard. Thankfully, it has dried up a lot this week. At first, I was fairly adamant that students could not play in it when it was topped with ice, as it was slippery and could result in someone falling through the ice and getting soaked. However, the sunshine has worn me down and I now allow the students to explore the water to a point. Unfortunately, a wagon mishap today led to 2 students taking an unexpected swim. Yikes!!!! That was a teacher panic moment when I heard terrified shrieks and turned around to see the wagon sinking and 2 students half-submerged in water. The joys of spring. 😳 Check me for grey hair, please. 

4. I have received my timetable for next year. I am teaching all of the same things, and am picking up Health and Music for Grade 4. If our class numbers stay the same, I will be teaching approximately 140 students next year! That is more than 1/3 of the school population. It is sure to be another busy year full of some learning curves, but I am excited for the new adventures and learning. If you’re curious, that brings my teaching assignment to:

-Pre-Kindergarten (mornings) 

-Grade 6 Social Studies 

-Grade 5 Health and Music 

-Grade 4 Health and Music 

-Kindergarten Dance, Drama, and Music 

5. I am still keeping up with weekly blogging!!! (Again, all credit to the weather)

With Easter break right around the corner, I find it hard to believe that there are less than 3 months of school left now! 

That’s all I have for now. Until next time, 

-KKF

taking the night off

I’m ba-aaaccckk! Two weeks in a row of blogging – and I’m excited that, even after several years on this blog, this post will mark a new first: the first time writing a post from my phone rather than the computer.

Tonight, I spent the entire evening curled up in blankets on my couch. And it was glorious. Once I got home from cross country skiing, I ate supper and flopped on the couch, never to get up or be productive again. And I lived happily ever after. The end.

And that’s what I wanted to quickly chat about tonight: the ability to take a night off GUILT FREE. Because, believe me, I am fairly skilled at taking the night off when the situation calls for it, but being able to do it without feeling bad for not accomplishing something school related is still a struggle for me.

Being a planner/organizer type, I am in constant “get-ahead” mode. If I have a free moment, my brain is urging me to use it to plan for school. However, the tricky thing about teaching is that there is always something more to do. Which means I could spend every spare moment doing something school related and still have a to-do list.

Also, if I continued down the path of using every spare moment to accomplish school work, I would be burnt out in my first year of teaching.

Now that I have gotten a feel for the daily hustle and bustle of the profession, though, I can realize and appreciate that simply being able to take the night off is a planning/organizing success. There is nothing so dire or imminent that it needs doing today, because I already have a plan for tomorrow. (Of course, the planner/organizer in me also says, “Now that you have a plan for tomorrow, work on the plan for the next two weeks!” but that is something I am learning to let go and give myself some leeway with, as I am teaching everything for the first time, and much of it from scratch).

I have had times when I am planning a lesson the night before (or early morning of!) I have to teach it, and I have had (precious few) times where I don’t have to do any planning all week. I obviously prefer the times when I am further ahead, but I have also learned to let go of a lot of things for my own sanity and well being too. Also, I think these experiences are, in a way, the “badges of honor” of a first year teacher. It would be pretty sad if I could say I have mastered my profession of lifelong growing, changing, and learning in the first year.

That is truly an exciting part of being a teacher – constantly reinventing, tweaking, and transforming your practice as you (and pardon the shameless and cheesy self-advertising here) “learn to teach”. It has reached the point in the year where I am looking ahead to next year and already starting a list of goals that I would like to tackle in Year 2.

I may not have found that perfect balance or routine yet, but that is simply a goal for my next years of teaching. 🙂

Finally, I suppose the whole point of this post can be summed up in this haiku:

Please don’t feel guilty.

Go ahead, take the night off.

You deserve it, teach.

Until next time,

-KKF

hanging head in shame

4 months!!!! That is how long (exactly to the day) it has been since I have written anything on my poor, neglected blog.

I feel like I am not the same teacher or person I was when I last wrote in November of 2016 (a different year, even!). The past four months have been bursting full of struggles and successes. In some aspects, I feel I have ‘figured things out’ and in others, I still feel lost in the rough. Teaching in a nutshell, my friends.

In order to attempt more frequent posting, I hope to give quick little updates such as this post will be – perhaps I can make it a weekly habit and just give the highlights. I know, I have made this goal before and failed miserably but teaching is an optimistic profession and I am, fittingly, optimistic that I can stick to this if I make it a priority! So here are a few brief highlights of the past FOUR MONTHS (from what I can remember with a fried teacher brain).

  1. Autograph books in Pre-K (I had heard of Pre-K teachers having a ‘sign in’ sheet for their students to write their names each day, and wanted to try my own spin on this; the autograph book was born!) Students sign their name every day when entering the classroom. This has been a helpful way for me to informally assess students’ knowledge of their own name and the letters in it, as well as fine motor skills.
  2. Puberty in Grade 5 Health. Yes, part of the curriculum in Grade 5 includes the dreaded topic of Puberty (which my students had been anxiously asking when we’d be covering since the beginning of the school year). I have to say, however, that it has been one of my favourite units to teach this year! Once they get past the initial awkwardness, students are genuinely interested in learning about the upcoming changes they will experience as they go through this ‘rite of passage.’ Knowledge is power!
  3. Classroom rearranging and creativity in Pre-K. Oh, how I love rearranging my classroom furniture and switching up the invitations in my Pre-K classroom! It is one of my favourite parts of the Pre-K position. I have tried several different configurations this year, and enjoy the freshness of changing things up periodically. I love that my classroom never looks exactly the same! It has definitely got me thinking about using invitations and hands-on, explorative learning in grades past Pre-K and K.  I have a new career goal of testing out this style of learning with these students. After all, there is so much research that backs students having free play learning until an older age than our education system grants them.
  4. Passion for early childhood education reaffirmed. I cannot gush enough about how I love the Pre-K program and its holistic style of addressing student learning! I feel that I have truly found my area of passion, my place, my niche. In the future, I would definitely love to teach early years full time, as that is where I find my true joy and affirmation of teaching.
  5. Being asked if I’m staying in Hudson Bay. As soon as January hit, I noticed that everyone started to ask me if I planned on staying at HBCS next year. I always answered with a confident, “Yes.” I truly do love the community, the school, the staff and students. I am excited to get the chance to continue learning as a professional education within the walls of HBCS.
  6. Change in education and what the future holds. It is definitely an interesting time to be starting a career in education with all of the uncertainty and worry that clouds the future of education in our province. At the end of the day, however, I know that the passion in teachers’ hearts will continue to fuel them no matter what the road ahead may look like. I suppose that is the other thing that I have learned in this first year of teaching: there is truly no way that I could have gotten through if I did not love teaching and children as much as I do. You can hear this over and over again in university, but it doesn’t ring as true until you are really in the thick of the profession, good and bad aspects both.

 

I suppose this post ended up being a bit longer than the “quick little update” that I intended, but I have never been known to be short winded in my blog posts and I did have a lot to catch you up on (this doesn’t begin to scratch the surface, of course).

Hopefully, next week will see me on this little slice of the internet again to share my teaching anecdotes. Until then,

-KKF

 

 

 

 

 

 

oopsie daisies…

Sorry everyone. I realized that I have now not posted for almost 2 months! When my goal was to post every 2 or 3 weeks maximum. I suppose this is a fitting portrayal of a first year teacher’s life – craziness and time warps. How is it already the second half of November?!

This will just be a quick post to update you on my life as of late, because I can’t possibly fill you in all of the things that I have missed telling you about in the past two months (at least not without intense research and backtracking, which would waste precious planning time). Besides, I’m sure you don’t want to be bored with the tedious little details. Here are the highlights:

I am still love love loving Pre-K (although October was a very hard month because I was away A LOT for conferences, workshops, and PD). In fact, October was a hard month for me in general, because for 6 weeks straight, I was on the road every single weekend going home to visit family and attend weddings, trekking across the province for professional development, and visiting friends. I am very happy to say that this weekend is the first in 6 weeks that I have spent in Hudson Bay and I was not leaving for anything! I will be staying here until Christmas break now, so am looking forward to having free weekends to plan and tidy my humble abode.

Two colleagues from the school and I attended ECEC (Early Childhood Education Council) conference in Edmonton, Alberta on November 3, 4, 5, which was AMAZING! I went to umpteen PD events this fall and that conference was, by far, the most beneficial, inspiring, applicable, and enjoyable of them all (probably due to the fact that it was all geared to ECE, which is where my true passion lies, and the fact that EVERY SINGLE SESSION I attended was so informative and useful in my everyday classroom life – although it also didn’t hurt that the conference was in West Ed Mall, so some shopping and relaxation also took place). It was  a wonderful experience (and thank goodness the conference was so good – it made the 8.5 hour drive worth it) all around – as I got to grow as a professional and build relationships with 2 of the colleagues who are also in the primary grades at HBCS. Treasured memories and learning, for sure!

I have been feeling VERY behind in my planning and am relieved (although not exactly happy) to have spent a large majority of my weekend at the school to prep for the coming week – as I have had a few days where I am planning extremely last minute for upcoming lessons (say, the night before – EEK! – prepared me’s nightmare). I was chatting with a close friend (and fellow first year teacher) last night though, and I told her that I am not ashamed to tell people how difficult being a first year teacher (or teacher in general, quite frankly) is, because sometimes we don’t hear that side of things. My friend was telling me how she struggles with comparing herself to others when she sees the amazing lesson they are posting about on social media. My thoughts on this were twofold:

  • Sharing our amazing lessons is GREAT! That is what teaching is all about – sharing our successes and cheering each other on for the wonderful things we are doing in our classrooms for our students.
  • However, I don’t think it is possible to have a stand-out, picture perfect, mind blowing lesson every single period, every single day. Nor should we have the impression that that is our job to create. Sometimes, things get interrupted, or sidetracked, or they just go completely horrible. And that is okay (and should be mandatory, I think) to share too! As teachers, we should support each other through the hard times even more than the good. That way, we will always have great teachers for our students, rather than burnt-out, jaded, exhausted, at-the-end-of-their-rope, teacher zombies.

That’s all for now. Sorry this post was all words and no pictures! Hopefully I will be back here much sooner for a more visual update.

Until then,

Cheers!

–KKF, Ms. F, Ms. Fidelack, teacher, Mrs. Fidelack…

***P.S. I am choosing not to read over and edit this post, in my rush to get it posted and return to planning, so please enjoy this slice of human-ness and non-perfection (as I am sure there is some typos in here somewhere…)